Petrol crisis: Dar absolves himself as debate descends into squabbling

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar absolved himself of any responsibility in the worst-ever petrol crisis and categorically denied that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) ever requested funds to open an L/C. The Finance Ministry has provided all the payments on account of power subsidies and has not stopped a single claim of Water and Power Ministry, he said at a hastily called news conference here on Monday.

He further stated that the Prime Minister was heading the energy committee and that he (Dar) has nothing to do with it. Dar said that the petrol crisis is a “conspiracy against the government and we should go in depth to identify the people behind this conspiracy”.

“Finance Ministry has nothing to do with petrol crisis and wants the media to ask this question from the concerned Minister,” he added. The Minister was visibly upset over media reports that Finance Ministry was responsible for the default of PSO letters of credit and consequent petroleum crisis. “Finance Ministry does not owe anything to PSO,” he said while adding that in terms of subsidy to power sector, Finance Ministry is totally up to date.

Water and Power Ministry sought Rs 10 billion on Monday which have been released immediately he said, adding to hold Finance Ministry responsible for PSO’s LC default is baseless. Ministry of Finance does not have any business with the PSO, he further stated. Dar was visibly annoyed at a question on the resurfacing of power sector circular debt, “I can not explain why the circular debt has resurfaced,” he stated.

Dar attributed the bulk of the blame to oil marketing companies that he contended “have not met the responsibility to maintain required petrol stocks”. There was an increase in demand and it was government’s responsibility to anticipate it and maintain stocks, he acknowledged, and added that “hopefully action would be taken against those responsible”.

Dar stated that during his recent five-day Japan visit Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) gave the reassurance that it will finance 800 million yen for the Lakhra Power project and Yamaha Motorcycles gave the assurance that their plant would become operational in Pakistan in April. Dar added that on an invitation of Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Japan has promised to visit Pakistan at the earliest.

Recorder Report